Friday, February 12, 2010

Unexpected Empathy

Although Zoe loves all animals, worms and toads, she hates bugs. There have been moments during the summer when she has chased the boys around while wielding a sword in one hand and a water pistol in the other, only to run into the garage shrieking like a girl, all because she saw a bee. Bees are definitely the king of her hated bug kingdom, but her dislike of flies, mosquitoes, ladybugs, dragonflies, and box elder bugs comes close. Oh, and she also hates ants.

A few days ago, Zoe and Charlie were tolerating being around each other and watching the movie Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. I was a little worried about how she would react when the bees swooped in sounding like B-1 bombers, but she handled it pretty well and didn't hide behind the couch or anything. She was more upset about the fact that her bedtime arrived before the movie was over, but after reassuring her that it would be on DVR and she could watch the rest of it the next day, she agreed to go to bed. It was then that I realized that she had stopped watching right before the ant (creatively named "Anty"), after saving the kids from the scorpion, gets attacked and dies.

Now, I've seen how this girl reacts when surrounded by ants. Let's just say that she cannot stomp her New Balance size-10's fast or hard enough, and will happily smash ants into the concrete for hours. So even though Anty was like a pet, the kids are all sad and Ron sheds some tears, I wasn't really worried about how Zoe would take the news about a dead ant. After all, she's personally responsible for ending the lives of thousands of them.

The next day while she was watching the movie again, I took advantage of the time to get a few things done since I knew I wouldn't have to console her during the giant bee scene. But then we got to the part that she had missed and the scorpion appeared. Sensing a bit of distress, I sat on the couch with her as she watched Anty take the fatal blow. She sat there in silence with her mouth hanging open, and then said: "He died? He's dead? How can he die? It's Ron's pet ant! He can't die! Does he get a new Anty? Promise me he gets a new ant!"

She looked at me, and I could see her eyes start to get glossy. Within ten seconds, she started sobbing, devastated by Anty's death. If only the kindergarten teacher who thinks that my daughter has a little bit of a mean streak could see her now, crying over a dead ant.

"Yes Zoe, I'm pretty sure that Ron gets a new pet ant in the sequel." This, and some fruit snacks, seemed to make her feel better, and she managed to finish watching the movie, never even flinching when Nick almost got sucked up and chopped into little bits by the lawn mower.

Meanwhile, I think I'll file this moment away in my brain because it might come in handy at some point. Like this summer when she is freaking out about "all the stupid ants" and is obsessed about destroying all of them, maybe I'll casually mention the fact that one of those ants might be someone's pet, so perhaps she could STOP BEING INSANE AND QUIT STOMPING ON ALL OF THE ANTS!

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